Damaging virus attacks Mac computers

Posted on: 10:01 pm, April 11, 2012, by , updated on: 10:36pm, April 11, 2012

DENVER — It’s a “rude awakening” for millions of Mac users around the world. For the first time ever, a widespread computer virus is infecting machines thought to be immune.

Apple is scrambling, amid criticism, to fix the problems.

This is what you want to avoid, a red perfectly legit looking Adobe pop up screen telling you to update your flash player.

It could allow attackers to get all of your personal information.

It is a real wake up call for so many of us who assumed our Mac’s are virus proof. Many are criticizing apple for being slow to admit there is a problem and warning mac users.

At the nonprofit “Laboratory to Combat Human Trafficking,” they run everything on apple computers. “Writing, emailing , research, our financials,” said researcher and staff financials manager Rhonda Young.

Like so many Mac users they figured they’re immune to the type of virus, called “Flashback,” that’s already infected at least 600,000 Macs.

“It would be so bad…I mean it would be yeah…It would be very bad, it would be scary I’m not sure what, what we would do,” said Young.

“One catches this by surfing and so you surf to a website and it suggests that you need to update your flash,” said Dr. Steven Beaty, a computer engineer and cyber security expert at the National Center.

This is what you’ll see: When you click on it..the virus installs a “keylogger” on your computer.

“So it will track your user name and passwords,” Beaty said, “And so that’s a huge concern.”

The virus also connects you to a remote host, giving it invisible control of your computer.

Beaty says the virus gets in through java and javascript.

“It’s very widespread… at least the attempts,” Beaty said.

There are free anti-virals you can download for Mac online. Beaty recommends sophos.com.

Apple is also offering a patch, but only for its latest operating systems.

“Everybody can and probably should  turn off java in their browser,”  said Beaty.

Experts call this the most sophisticated attack on Macs ever. But Beaty says choosing what java you’re using, running both anti virals and Apple security, can get you out of trouble.

“If users had done any of those things or do any of those things then their machine will be protected,” Beaty said.

In the meantime many Mac users are holding their breath. “We’re pretty vulnerable yeah,” said Rhonda Young.